I first met David during my psychiatry sub-internship rotation in Miami Beach. David had been diagnosed many years with bipolar disorder with psychosis. He was an overweight, cheery, Cuban-American guy in his late 50’s who had been in Miami ever since he was a child. He had been hospitalized several times in the past for his condition, and on this particular episode, he had been in the hospital for well over a month. I had the pleasure of talking to him during one of our daily rounds, and he opened up to me about the things he liked doing, and about his life in the assisted living facility. It was a little difficult keeping up with what he was saying as he changed topics quite frequently, as many patients with his condition does, and many of what he said sounded odd or delusional.
Being on the sixth floor, the view from the psych ward is amazing. It overlooks the waters of Biscayne Bay, along with several little islands in the bay. David turned to me and started talking about how in the past he saw pink carpet around the islands in the bay. Pink carpet? I had no idea what he was talking about. I shrugged it off as just another delusion, and moved on.
Later on while I was browsing through pictures of modern environmental art, I came across this picture:
In 1983, Bulgarian-born artist Christo and his wife and fellow artist Jeanne-Claude designed and wove 6.5 million square feet of pink polypropylene carpet around the eleven islands in Biscayne Bay. 79 different patterns of the fabric were sewn to follow the irregular contours of the islands. The bright fluorescent pink contrasted with the green tropical vegetation of the surrounded islands, and was an expression of the way people lived between land and sea in Miami. It could be seen and admired by the people of Miami for 2 weeks.
Lesson of the day:
Sometimes what sounds delusional coming out of a psychiatric patient’s mouth may actually turn out to be true. So familiarize yourself in art, TV, music, pop culture, and as many things as you can, because non-medical knowledge may certainly help your medical practice.
Note: Names, ages, and other pertinent info have been modified to protect identity of the patient.